The Musical Setting of Ancient Greek Texts

TitleThe Musical Setting of Ancient Greek Texts
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsD'Angour, A
EditorPhillips, T, D'Angour, A
Ancient AuthorsEuripides Trag. (TLG 0006), Homerus Epic. (TLG 0012)
Book TitleMusic, Text, and Culture in Ancient Greece
PublisherOxford University Press

This chapter discusses the relationship between melody and language in Homer, the musical fragment of Euripides’ Orestes, and the ‘Seikilos Song’. Readings of Homeric passages draw on statistical analysis of the pitch-structures of the hexameter to show how melody may have been used to mark significant junctures, bridge syntactically conjoined verses, and demarcate the narrative. The musical scores of the two later texts demonstrate the interaction of semantic meaning with melodic and rhythmical patterns, and contextualizes these interactions against the backdrop of wider developments in Greek performance culture. The (probably) Euripidean melody on the Vienna papyrus should be seen in relation to the techniques of the ‘New Musicians’, and viewed as a move towards a more emotionally ‘programmatic’ melodization. The chapter also argues for an overall continuity of techniques for creating musical effects from ancient Greek to later traditions of Western music. []


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